Bible Reading for SEP27: Zephaniah, Haggai

Zephaniah was no ordinary preacher. He was a great,
great grandson of King Hezekiah, one of Judah’s most
famous rulers. He was of the royal line but, more
important, he had the message of God on his lips and in
his heart. Zephaniah preached during the time of godly
King Josiah.

By all appearances it was a time of religious
concern and consecration in the land. But Zephaniah
knew the religious zeal of the people was not sincere.
Their reforms were shallow. They had gotten rid of the
idols in their homes, but not the idols in their
hearts.

Zephaniah’s message can be divided into three
parts. Two of them deal with judgment and one with
mercy. In chapter 1 God said, speaking of the land of
Judah, “I will utterly consume all things from off the
land.” Nothing would escape His judgment. It would
include even the beasts, the birds of the air, and the
fish of the sea. It would especially affect those who
worshiped idols and those who had turned their backs on
God. This judgment would virtually wipe out the land of
Judah.

Chapters 2:4–3:7 indicate that God would also
judge many other nations. Zephaniah names the various
Gentile nations around Judah, and announces that God
will judge them also for their sins.

Zephaniah closes with a message of promise that
God will one day regather the people, punish the
Gentile nations, and restore Israel and Judah to their
land.

In order to understand the work of the last
three prophets of the Old Testament (Haggai, Zechariah,
and Malachi), we must review Jewish history. The Book
of Ezra recorded that Ezra took some 50,000 Jews,
returned to the Holy Land (536 b.c.), rebuilt the
altar, and started the sacrifices again. In 535 b.c.,
the foundation was laid for the Temple, but there was
considerable opposition and the work stopped. It was
the work of four godly men that finally brought the
task to completion. Those four were Zerubbabel, the
governor; Joshua the high priest; and Haggai and
Zechariah, the prophets. The whole purpose of Haggai’s
ministry was to awaken the lazy people and encourage
them to finish God’s Temple.

There are four sermons recorded in the Book of
Haggai. In chapter 1 Haggai’s message is against
putting self ahead of the Lord. The people had built
their own houses and did not find time to build the
house of the Lord. Haggai points out the selfishness of
their hearts.

The second message is found in chapter 2:1-9.
Here Haggai warns against looking back. The third
message is recorded in verses 10-19. It deals with the
failure to confess sins. The people expected material
blessings the very day they began to work on the
Temple, but Haggai explained to them that they were
still unclean. They had not confessed their sins, and
God would not bless them until they repented before Him
and were cleansed.

The final message is in verses 20-23. It deals
with unbelief, and was directed to the governor
personally. No doubt Zerubbabel needed special
encouragement as he directed the work of the Lord.
Satan always attacks spiritual leaders. It is our duty
to pray for them and work with them.

Perhaps Zerubbabel saw the great empires around
him and feared for the future of the tiny remnant of
Jews. Circumstances have a way of discouraging us as we
seek to build a work for the Lord. God told Zerubbabel,
through Haggai, that He would shake the heavens and the
earth. He told him not to be afraid of these enemy
kingdoms, because He would overthrow and destroy them.



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